Let’s face it. Most Muslim organizations are stuck in mediocrity.
They’re not so bad that we can get rid of them. But they’re not so great to deserve any special accolades. They’re like most people and most organizations and most companies that have ever graced this planet.
Average. Mediocre. Not amazing.
There are several reasons for mediocrity in Muslim organizations (and I’m mostly speaking about Masjids).
- Lack of funding.
- Entrenched bureaucracies.
But one of the leading causes of mediocrity in Masjids is a lack of simplicity. Most Masjids and other Muslim organizations are stupendously complicated in every way.
As a Muslim leader, you will find your success lies much in your ability to simplify things. If you can wage a successful jihad against complexity, and encourage your followers to adopt the gospel of simplicity, Inshallah, you will find success.
However, there’s a catch.
Simplicity isn’t easy.
In fact, you’ll find it much easier to slip into complexity than to maintain a simple, focused and streamlined ideology. Human beings have a natural inclination to complexity.
If you find yourself in a position of leadership or responsibility at your local Masjid or even at your job, you will find that simplicity is nearly impossible to attain. Especially if you’re not the head honcho on charge.
Nonetheless, to the best of your ability, you must encourage and enforce an ideology of simplicity. You must do your best to banish complexity and keep it as far away from you and your work as possible.
Think about it. Have you ever sat in on a meeting at your local Masjid? How do things usually start off?
There may be a PowerPoint slide where the Imam or President or whomever goes over an agenda. And then, he’ll attempt to drill through the points on his agenda in a perfunctory manner as is expected.
This methodical behavior lasts for perhaps twenty minutes (or the first two bullet points, whichever comes first) before things begin to go off course.
At some point, someone will want to interject their two cents. And then someone else will want to counter that two cents with their own two cents. And before long, a lively, albeit pointless, discussion is taking place.
There’s nothing wrong with a discussion like this as the members of the Masjid should be involved in its management. But what comes out of these discussions is usually poison to the process.
Since the guys running things (board of directors, Imam, whoever) want to appear democratic and appeasing, they’ll often allow this discussion to run all over the place. And the next thing you know, all sorts of addendums and additions and amendments are being added to the original agenda.
What started off pretty simple has devolved into a big mess. The natural result of this mess is complexity, confusion, and ultimately, mediocrity.
You Must Be Strong To Be Simple
As a good leader, you must be strong and bold enough to fight back the natural human tendency towards complexity. You must be unafraid of hurting feelings or chasing away rich donors. Those donors are important. But when their money is being wasted on complex, mediocre projects, it’s your behind that’s gonna be on the toaster.
Simplicity requires focus and determination. You must root out every creeping weed of complexity.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say your Masjid needs to renovate the bathrooms. It’s going to cost $10000.
The simple thing to do would be to first check the Masjid cash funds. Is there enough money available that isn’t earmarked for something else more important?
Yes? Good. Hire a competent company with good references and insurance and the proper licensure to get the job done.
If you follow this process, the job will be done in about a week or two and everyone’s happy they no longer have to cringe the next time biryani is served at the Masjid.
What happens if you allow complexity to creep into the process?
First people begin to question if that is a good use of Masjid funds. Then someone is saying they can find someone who can do just as good a job for half the cost. Next someone else suggests only half the costs should come from the Masjid while the other half should be raised during next month’s fundraising dinner.
And now, a process that could have been taken care of in a matter of days takes months to complete.
I can guarantee, that all things considered, your Masjid will spend much more than $10000 for the renovations if you allow this complexity. You will look like an ineffective leader who can’t even keep the toilets flushing.
All because you let complexity creep into the process.
Now what if your Masjid doesn’t have the funds immediately to renovate the bathrooms? What’s the simple way to solve this problem?
It’s not to do some ridiculous fundraising dinner thing.
Got to the wealthy members in your community and ask them to donate something, whatever they can, towards the renovation. The rest, set aside a portion of every dollar that enters the Masjid in a separate account just for this purpose.
And keep saving until you have the funds to get the bathrooms renovated.
Don’t get cute with the money. Don’t get any bright ideas. Don’t spend this money on anything else.
Remain focused and disciplined and get your bathrooms fixed.
It’s not sexy. It’s not flashy. It not exciting. But it will get the job done.
At its core, Islam is a religion based on a simple idea: Worship one God (Allah).
And that is perhaps the best argument for simplicity.by